The Pirates have seen a lot of players graduate from prospect status in the last year. Just during the 2017 season, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trevor Williams, and Jose Osuna have graduated from prospect status. They join guys like Jameson Taillon, Adam Frazier, and Chad Kuhl from 2016. A few of those guys (Taillon, Bell, Glasnow) were at the top of the system, while the others have consistently ranked in the top 50 or top 30 prospects in the past.
Losing those players definitely provides a hit to the farm system rankings, although that’s not really a bad thing. It doesn’t hurt the Pirates that guys like Taillon and Bell are producing in the majors, and under control for five more seasons beyond 2017, instead of boosting their farm system rankings.
The challenge here is that the Pirates do need to continue having a strong farm system, as that means they will continue having a pipeline of talent coming to Pittsburgh in the future. Fortunately, they’ve maintained a strong farm system even after all of the promotions in the last year.
The disclaimer here is that the makeup of the system is a lot different. The system right now isn’t as top-heavy as it was in the past, especially when Taillon, Bell, and Glasnow were part of the current prospect group. But the depth throughout the system is strong, and when putting the rankings together, we noticed a lot of depth in the middle of the system, with guys around the top 30 who would normally be in the top 20, and several guys outside the top 50 who could easily be on this list.
The lack of top-heavy talent may also be a short-term thing. The Pirates went heavy on prep players during the 2017 draft. They went heavy on prep pitchers in 2016. They also have a few international prospects who are showing promise in the lower levels. So while the top of the system is thinner now than in years past, there are a lot of options in the lower levels who can emerge in a few years to make up a new top-heavy system.
Below you will find our mid-season top 50 prospects for the Pirates’ system. As usual, we separated the rankings into tiers, which I prefer over numerical rankings. The goal of the tiers is to give a better idea of talent, showing that there is a gap between the second and third best prospects, but not as much of a gap between the third and sixth best prospect. In some cases, such as tier 3, you could have a guy ranked as a top ten prospect by one person, and ranked outside of the top ten by someone else, with the difference coming down to personal preferences on floors, ceilings, and/or positional values.
Each player includes a link to the latest analysis on that player, with most of those articles coming in the last few weeks. This level of information is unparalleled by any other outlet. You won’t find anywhere else with the depth and availability of knowledge on these prospects, and in most cases, you won’t find the latest updates and developments we have on each prospect.
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1. Mitch Keller – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
2. Austin Meadows – Breaking Down Why Austin Meadows is Struggling to Hit in Triple-A This Year
3. Shane Baz – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
4. Cole Tucker – Cole Tucker is Starting to Show Why the Pirates Have Been So High on His Potential
5. Kevin Newman – Kevin Newman Has a Shortstop Problem, and It’s Not What You Think
6. Ke’Bryan Hayes – Top Third Base Prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes Showing Steady Progression
7. Will Craig – Will Craig Has Made Nice Progress This Year With His Swing and First Base Defense
8. Elias Diaz – Elias Diaz is the Catcher of the Future, But When is That Future?
9. Taylor Hearn – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
10. Gage Hinsz – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
11. Calvin Mitchell – The Pirates Added Some Promising Outfield Prospects in the 2017 Draft
12. Braeden Ogle – Left-Handed Pitcher Braeden Ogle Taking Steps Forward in Bristol
13. Edgar Santana – The Book on Edgar Santana
14. Kevin Kramer – It Took Opposing Teams Six Weeks to Figure Out How to Keep Kevin Kramer Off the Bases
15. Steven Brault – Steven Brault is Looking Like He Belongs in the Majors Right Now
16. Clay Holmes – “I think you’re watching the evolution of a talented pitcher.”
17. Jordan Luplow – Jordan Luplow Hopes to Follow Family Footsteps to Pittsburgh
18. Luis Escobar – Luis Escobar Heads to the Futures Game, While Holding Back His Own Future
19. Max Kranick – Small Adjustments For Max Kranick
20. Steven Jennings – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
21. Adrian Valerio – Despite the Missed Time, Adrian Valerio is Showing Offensive and Defensive Improvements
22. Nick Kingham – The Final Steps For Nick Kingham and Dovydas Neverauskas
23. Conner Uselton – The Pirates Added Some Promising Outfield Prospects in the 2017 Draft
24. Max Moroff – Max Moroff Has Seen an Increase in Power This Year
25. Dovydas Neverauskas – The Final Steps For Nick Kingham and Dovydas Neverauskas
26. Eric Wood – Eric Wood and Erich Weiss Continue to Improve as the Season Moves Along
27. Eduardo Vera – Eduardo Vera Comes Roaring Back from Tommy John Surgery
28. Logan Hill – A Simplified Swing Led to Logan Hill Powering His Way to Altoona
29. Tyler Eppler – Tyler Eppler May Have Found a New Primary Off-Speed Pitch
30. Lolo Sanchez – The Pirates May Have Another Wave of International Hitting Prospects Emerging
31. Dario Agrazal – Dario Agrazal Could Be More Than a Sinkerball Specialist With Newly Improved Slider
32. Brandon Waddell – Waddell and Barnes Work Their Way Back from Second Injuries
33. Pedro Vasquez – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
34. Oddy Nunez – A Tall, Left-Handed Starting Pitcher to Watch in West Virginia
35. Connor Joe – An Up and Down 2017 Season For Connor Joe
36. JT Brubaker – JT Brubaker is Emerging as Another Hard Throwing Starting Pitching Prospect
37. Chris Bostick – Christopher Bostick is Performing at High Level On and Off the Field
38. Dylan Busby – Pirates Add an Intriguing Group of College Bats in 2017 Draft
39. Domingo Robles – Domingo Robles, the Pirates’ Top International Pitcher in 2014, is Emerging as a Prospect
40. Travis MacGregor – 2016 Second Rounder Travis MacGregor Embracing the Developmental Focus in Bristol
41. Alex McRae – Alex McRae Continues to Prove Prospect Rankings Wrong
42. Wyatt Mathisen – Weight Loss Proves to Be Pivotal for Wyatt Mathisen During All-Star Campaign
43. Mitchell Tolman – How Mitchell Tolman Has Been One of the Hottest Hitters in the System Lately
44. Cody Bolton – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
45. Jake Brentz – The Pirates Have a Lefty Reliever Who Hits 100 MPH Moving Up in the System
46. Jeremias Portorreal – The Pirates May Have Another Wave of International Hitting Prospects Emerging
47. Barrett Barnes – Waddell and Barnes Work Their Way Back from Second Injuries
48. Stephen Alemais – Stephen Alemais is Moving Toward an Adam Frazier Approach at the Plate
49. Yeudy Garcia – Yeudy Garcia Moving to the Bullpen
50. Christian Kelley – The Pirates Have Some Catching Prospects Developing Behind Elias Diaz
In Tier 7, Outside the Top 50 (Sorted Alphabetically): Tanner Anderson, Blake Cederlind, Sergio Cubilete, Edwin Espinal, Tristan Gray, Jin-De Jhang, Edison Lantigua, Mason Martin, Gift Ngoepe, Jared Oliva, Hunter Owen, Ike Schlabach, Austin Shields, Deon Stafford, Jacob Stallings, Jerrick Suiter, Cam Vieaux, Jacob Webb, Erich Weiss, Daniel Zamora